Investigating Academic Literacy Expectations: A Curriculum Audit Model

By Armstrong, Sonya L.; Stahl, Norman A. et al. | Journal of Developmental Education, Winter 2015 | Go to article overview

Investigating Academic Literacy Expectations: A Curriculum Audit Model


Armstrong, Sonya L., Stahl, Norman A., Kantner, M. Joanne, Journal of Developmental Education


The college and career readiness movement and P-20 pipeline reform efforts have been, in part, catalysts for the development and adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Major goals of the CCSS have been clarifying standards beginning with what is considered college and career ready and systematically backward-benchmarking each educational grade level down the ladder through kindergarten (Common Core State Standards, 2010). Of significant concern throughout the language of the standards are academic literacy development and proficiency, with a goal of having students exit high school ready for literacy expectations of the workplace or placement directly into college-level courses. Of course, having students college-text ready upon exit from high school is-and should be-a focal goal; however, it is important to realize that the field has encountered a number of similar literacy movements over the years that have had only moderate success (e.g., Right to Read, Goals 2000, No Child Left Behind).

indeed, at present, increasing numbers of first-year college students are being placed into one or more developmental reading courses prior to beginning their college-level courses (Boatman & Long, 2010; Hughes & Scott-Clayton, 2011; Quint, Jaggars, Byndloss, & Magazinnik, 2013). Further, it will be at least a decade before students who have had full benefit of the CCSS or other reform-oriented curricula based on the college/ career-ready philosophy will enter either the workforce or higher education. In the meantime, there will continue to be nontraditional students returning for postsecondary training and education. For these reasons, professionals associated with developmental reading will continue to be called upon to provide assistance in transitioning students to the rigors of postsecondary academic literacy practices. Therefore, as changes in PK-12 emerge in response to educational reform efforts, it is critical that experts within the field of college reading actively engage in college-readiness conversations for purposes of informing developmental reading curriculum and instruction. Equally important is that college reading professionals engage in research on and evaluation of postsecondary literacy practices and expectations in order to ensure that college-readiness, alignmentfocused dialogues are reciprocal in nature.

Examining Key Educational Transition Spaces

The college and career readiness movement in the United States has prompted some significant shifts in research foci. One other reform movement has emerged that parallels the college and career readiness movement but focuses more specifically on degree and certificate attainment (or, more generally, graduation) in higher education. This latter movement has prompted calls for an increase in earned postsecondary credentials. In short, these educational reform movements have prompted a critical examination of some key educational transition spaces. For instance, the college and career readiness movement has been a catalyst fo investigating the transition space between PK-12 education and college. As a result, research centers and nonprofit organizations across the country hav begun to examine the issue of college readines (Barnett et al., 2012; Conley, Drummond, Gonzal Rooseboom, & Stout, 2011; Sepanik, 2012). Scholar in these areas of policy and scholarship are carefully examining readiness levels of students as the prepare to transition from high school to college.

Similarly, the higher education attainment movement has urged new interest in the transition space between beginning college and graduation (Adelman, Ewell, Gaston, & Schneider, 2010; Complete College America, 2011; Scrivener & Coghlan, 2011). Indeed, recent research has focused on the experiences of students transitioning from developmental education toward college completion (e.g., Maggs, 2011). Also, the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) has recently released a report (2013) on what it means to be college-ready in English/ literacy and math in community college settings. …

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